Medical School Application Guide

 

University of Birmingham

 

King’s College London

 

 

The University of Birmingham’s medical school was first established in the mid-1820s and is located in the grounds of a historic campus, which is under continual development with a new library set to be opened in the summer of 2016, and with work on a new central parkland within the campus to commence following this. As a medical student in Birmingham you would have access to the country’s largest healthcare region (5.5 million people) and you would be on your way to joining significant alumni, such as Richard Horton, the editor of The Lancet, and Jane Collins, the Chief Executive of Marie Curie Cancer Care. The 5-year course is open to both undergraduates and graduates, and teaching is initially systems-based for the first two years, with early patient contact, and anatomy is taught via prosected specimens. The third year of studies focuses on the practice of clinical medicine in the hospital and in the community, followed by placements within different medical and surgical specialities in the fourth year of the course. The final year involves further clinical attachments including a placement which prepares students for medical practice as a Foundation doctor. A diverse range of subjects for intercalated degrees are offered and the medical school places a strong emphasis on the development of research skills throughout the course. The 4-year graduate entry programme is open to graduates from a Life Science degree. The first year course structure revolves around problem-based learning and early patient contact in a GP setting. From the second year onwards, graduates join the undergraduates in hospital placements for their clinical years. Note also that qualified dentists who are interested in specialising in maxillofacial surgery can apply to join the last three years of the 5-year programme. There are 334 places available on the 5-year programme, and 40 places on the 4-year graduate entry programme. Birmingham’s MedSoc, a student society for Medical, Dental, Nursing and Biomedical Science students provides opportunities for bustling social life and a large variety of extra-curricular activities, including charitable pursuits.

 

The Medical School Application Guide

At a Glance

Courses available

4 to 5-year programme

 
Undergraduate Applicants
Graduate Applicants
 
5-year
4-year
5-year
No. of places
334
40
334
Degree
N/A
High 2:1
High 2:1
GCSEs
7A/A*s
A in English and Maths
A/B grade in English, Maths & sciences
A levels
A*AA
BBB
AAA
Exam
UKCAT
None
UKCAT
Interview
MMI
MMI
MMI
Work experience
Essential**
Essential***
Essential**
** Both healthcare and voluntary experience are considered equally important

 

 

PROGRAMMES

 

There is a 5-year programme open to undergraduate students, as detailed above. Intercalated BMedSci degree options are available in the following fields:

 

  • Clinical Science
  • Health Management and Leadership
  • Healthcare Ethics and Law
  • History of Medicine
  • International Health
  • Psychological Medicine
  • Medical Sciences
  • Public Health and Population Sciences

 

ACADEMIC REQUIREMENTS AND ELIGIBILITY

 

A/AS levels and GCSEs

 

The standard A level offer is A*AA, to include Biology/Human Biology and Chemistry (three A2 levels to be taken in Year 13, even if an A level subject was already completed in Year 12; the typical offer for which is then AAAA (including the Year 12 A level)). General Studies and Critical Thinking are not accepted as a third subject. If the third subject is Physical Education, Theatre Studies, Dance, Art or Music, a fourth subject at AS not in this list is required. Offers for candidates who take 4 A level subjects in Year 13 is AAAB. Note that if Mathematics A level is being taken over 2 years, 3 modules must be studied and examined for the first time in Year 13, to include only one of M1, S1 and D1. A combination of modules can be used to make up an A level in Mathematics and an AS level in Further Mathematics, as long as three modules are studied in Year 13, to include only one of M1, S1, D1 and FP1. Note that resit grades are not accepted.

 

GCSEs are important as they contribute in conjunction with the UKCAT results) to academic scoring for applicants, the highest scoring of which will then progress to interview. 7 GCSE subjects are scored and most applicants will have A/A* grades. GCSE subjects must include English Language, English Literature, Mathematics (or a variation thereof), Dual Award Science or Biology, Chemistry and Physics plus two additional GCSEs.

 

IB

 

A minimum of 32 points overall including 7,6,6 at Higher Level. Higher Level subjects should include Biology and Chemistry. English and Mathematics should be offered to Subsidiary Level, if not above. A minimum of 5 must have been achieved in Science, English and Mathematics in the Middle Years Program. The Middle Years Programme grades will count towards the applicant’s academic score in the interview selection criteria in lieu of GCSEs.

 

Admissions Exam

 

The UKCAT is required for all applicants. The test is only valid for one year.

 

Access to Medicine courses

 

Not accepted.

 

Other Diplomas

 

The Cambridge Pre-U is accepted with grades D3, D3 and D2, to include Biology and Chemistry.

 

BTEC diplomas not accepted.

 

Widening Participation/Students from disadvantaged educational backgrounds

 

The University of Birmingham is committed to widening participation within Medicine. The following programmes aim to assist students from disadvantaged backgrounds, who may have lower than the usual offer grades for applying to Medicine:

 

  • Access to Birmingham (www.birmingham.ac.uk/a2b)
  • Routes to the Professions (www/birmingham.ac.uk/routes)
  • Realising Opportunities programme (http://www.realisingopportunities.ac.uk/)

 

International Students

 

There are 28 spaces available for non-UK/EU students on the 5-year programme. Applicants’ qualifications are initially looked at to assess academic eligibility (note that competition may increase the minimum threshold) and then candidates are ranked according to their UKCAT scores. For selection for interview among 2015 applicants, the threshold UKCAT score was 2480. The personal statement is also assessed as for other applicants in the interview selection process. Proof of competency in written and verbal English is necessary if English is not the applicant’s first language e.g. IELTS, with a minimum score of 7.0 in each component.

 

If you are applying as an overseas student and taken qualifications other than those listed above, please contact us by email (enquiries@themsag.com) if you would like more information on the minimum grades needed to be considered for a place in Medicine at the University of Birmingham.

 

Policy on Re-applicants

 

Applicants who have previously been rejected following an interview at Birmingham may not re-apply. Applicants who did not make it to the interview stage in their first application may apply again a second time..

 

Policy on Deferrals

 

Approximately 10% of successful applicants take a gap year. Applicants who apply for deferred entry or apply after they have completed their school qualifications will not be at a disadvantage. It is expected that candidates would use a gap year to broaden their experiences and although not all planned activities have to relate to healthcare, it is expected that some healthcare involvement must be on-going. This should be made clear in the applicant’s personal statement.

 

APPLICATION PROCESS

 

Application Deadlines

 

Applications via UCAS for 2017/18 entry are open from 1st September 2016 and close on 15th October 2016

 

Application Documents

 

  • Completed UCAS application form
  • Secondary school examination certificates may be requested

 

SELECTION PROCESS AND INTERVIEW

 

Selection Process

 

Three factors are assessed by the medical school admissions department when selecting candidates for interview. These include: GCSEs, UKCAT and non-academic criteria. Initially candidates are awarded an academic score, based on their GCSE results or equivalent, and their UKCAT result. For the core GCSE subjects of English Language, Literature, Mathematics, and the Sciences, 4 points are awarded for each A*, 2 points for each A and 1 point for each B. For the two additional subjects, 2 points are awarded for each A* and 0 points for any lower grade. These points are then scaled so that candidates can be given an academic score of up to 7.0. To equate to the GCSE score, the IB Middle Years Programme results will be scored as following: 7 = A*, 6 = A, 5 = B. A minimum of 5 must have been achieved in Science, English and Mathematics. UKCAT results are ranked according to the results of all applicants who are applying and candidates are given a score of up to 3.0, which is combined with the GCSE score, to give a total academic score of up to 10.0. The threshold score for interview for 2016 entry was 6.2.

 

Non-academic criteria is not given a score, but the admissions team have certain essential criteria, including demonstration of motivation for a career in Medicine, commitment to the core values of the NHS, and people-focused work experience. Both healthcare experience and extra-curricular activities are considered highly important contributors to the non-academic criteria, and more of one will not compensate for less of the other. In terms of healthcare experience, while shadowing a doctor is a useful activity, an active role in a healthcare setting is deemed to be most desirable; for example, voluntary work in a hospital, care home or hospice. It is important to be able to demonstrate what you have learned about yourself and about Medicine through your healthcare experience. The university will consider difficulties in obtaining healthcare experience if these are stated, but it is expected that candidates would offer at least 2 weeks (in total) of healthcare experience. Examples of useful extra-curricular activities include part-time jobs in customer-facing roles and voluntary roles, especially those with a leadership component, e.g. youth group/Scouts/Guides leader. It is expected that these extracurricular activities would have been commenced at least one year prior to application, be on-going and involve interactions with a broad range of individuals in a responsible capacity.

 

Personal Qualities that the admissions team will be looking for, include:

 

  • Leadership
  • Effective team-working and good communication skills
  • Problem-solving and conscientiousness
  • Ability to cope with significant responsibility
  • Realistic understanding of the physical, emotion and organisation demands of Medicine
  • Self-reflection

 

Interview

 

Usually approximately 1000 candidates who have met the academic and non-academic criteria are invited for interview. Interviews are in Mini Multiple Interview (MMI) format and included six 6 minute stations plus a basic Mathematics/calculations station.

 

During the interview you will be assessed on the following criteria:

 

  • Self-insight and reflection
  • Problem-solving and team-work
  • Communication skills (particularly with people you meet for the first time)
  • Dealing with uncertainty
  • Resilience
  • Honesty and empathy
  • Ethical reasoning
  • Data interpretation and ability to evaluate information and identify relevant aspects

 

There may be questions involving NHS issues and handling difficult situations. Good preparation is to talk about these issues with healthcare staff and friends and family. Interview scores are ranked and the top 650 candidates will receive an offer. There is no advantage to having your interview earlier in the year. There is a minimum score for each interview station. If candidates are within 5% of the cut-off interview scores, or if they have failed to reach the minimum score for one interview station, the SJT component of their UKCAT will be considered as a determining factor for whether they receive an offer (usually those who score above Band 4 will receive an offer). For more detailed information on the types of interview stations that may come up, please see the following link:

 

http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/Documents/college-mds/courses/undergraduate/Medicine-and-Surgery-MBChB/web-info-interview-5-year-2015-16-v3.pdf

 

COMPETITION RATIOS

 

For 2016 entry, there were 3017 applicants for the 306 UK/EU spaces on the course, of which 1000 were interviewed and approximately 650 received offers. There are also 28 spaces available for international students.

 

RANKINGS

 

Medicine at the University of Birmingham is ranked 21st in the UK by the Guardian University Guide 2016.

 

It is ranked 14th in the UK by the Complete University Guide 2016.

 

It is among the top 100 medical schools in the QS World University Rankings.

 

PROGRAMMES

 

Graduates can apply to the 5-year programme, which usually admits between 5-10 graduates per year, or the fast-track 4-year graduate entry programme, which has 40 spaces available and is only open to UK/EU students.

 

For dentists who are interested in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, there are 5-6 spaces available each year to join the 4-year programme at the beginning of the 2nd year (i.e. a 3-year programme

 

ACADEMIC REQUIREMENTS AND ELIGIBILITY

 

Degree and A levelss

 

For the 5-year programme, candidates with a predicted/achieved First Class Honours have a greater chance of gaining admission, but those with a high 2:1 are also considered. The original degree can be in any discipline. A minimum of AAA at A level is required, which normally includes Biology and Chemistry.

 

For the 4-year programme, eligible applicants are those who have completed a Life Science degree. Preference is given to those applicants with a First Class Honours, but those with a high 2:1 are also considered. A minimum of BBB at A level is required, but this result threshold could be raised by competition. Candidates must be able to demonstrate, either through their A levels, other pre-university examinations or the modular content of their degrees, that they have a good background in Chemistry.

 

A higher degree or a second degree does not supersede the above requirements. Where more than one undergraduate degree programme has been studied, the result for the first will be of prime consideration (even if it is in a non-relevant subject).

 

For those applying for Oral Maxillofacial Surgery graduate entry, it is expected that in addition to their primary dental degree, they will have achieved MJDF or MFDS by the time the course has started.

 

GCSEss

 

A/B grades are required as a minimum threshold for application in the GCSE sciences, English and Mathematics for the 5-year programme.

 

For the 4-year programme, where the applicant’s highest qualification in English or Mathematics is at GCSE, they must have at least an A in these subjects.

 

Admissions Exam

 

The UKCAT is required for applicants to the 5-year programme and is valid for only one year

 

There is no admissions exam required for the 4-year programme.

 

Access to Medicine courses

 

Not accepted

 

International Students

 

Only UK/EU students may apply for the 4-year programme, and preference will be given to those who have taken their original degree in a UK institute.

 

International graduates may apply to the 5-year programme if they have taken their original degree in a UK institute.

 

International students may apply to the 2nd year of the 4-year programme to enable their training in Oral Maxillofacial Surgery, but competition is high and significant post-graduate clinical experience in the UK would be expected.

 

If you are applying as an overseas student and taken qualifications other than those listed above, please contact us by email (enquiries@themsag.com) if you would like more information on the minimum grades needed to be considered for a place in Medicine at the University of Birmingham.

 

Policy on Re-applicants

 

Applicants who have previously been rejected following an interview at Birmingham may not re-apply. Applicants who did not make it to the interview stage in their first application may apply again a second time.

 

APPLICATION PROCESS

 

Application Deadlines

 

Applications via UCAS for 2017/18 entry are open from 1st September 2016 and close on 15th October 2016

 

Application Documents

 

  • Completed UCAS application form
  • Degree transcripts may be requested

 

SELECTION PROCESS AND INTERVIEW

 

Selection Process

 

Graduates applying for the 5-year programme should meet the minimum academic criteria above in order to progress further in their application. They will not be scored on these qualifications but instead their academic score (which contributes to the interview selection criteria) will be based solely on their UKCAT score. The minimum UKCAT score for those graduates who progressed to interview for 2016 entry was 2200. The graduates are also assessed on non-academic criteria through their personal statements. This includes a demonstration of motivation for a career in Medicine, commitment to the core values of the NHS, and people-focused work experience. Both healthcare experience and extra-curricular activities are considered highly important contributors to the non-academic criteria, and more of one will not compensate for less of the other. In terms of healthcare experience, while shadowing a doctor is a useful activity, an active role in a healthcare setting is deemed to be most desirable; for example, voluntary work in a hospital, care home or hospice. It is important to be able to demonstrate what you have learned about yourself and about Medicine through your healthcare experience. The university will consider difficulties in obtaining healthcare experience if these are stated, but it is expected that candidates would offer at least 2 weeks (in total) of healthcare experience. Examples of useful extra-curricular activities include part-time jobs in customer-facing roles and voluntary roles, especially those with a leadership component, e.g. youth group/Scouts/Guides leader. It is expected that these extracurricular activities would have been commenced at least one year prior to application, be on-going and involve interactions with a broad range of individuals in a responsible capacity.

 

Personal Qualities that the admissions team will be looking for, include:

 

  • Leadership
  • Effective team-working and good communication skills
  • Problem-solving and conscientiousness
  • Ability to cope with significant responsibility
  • Realistic understanding of the physical, emotion and organisation demands of Medicine
  • Self-reflection

 

Selection for interview for the 4-year programme is based on the above non-academic criteria. Candidates are given an academic score based on their degree classification and their secondary school qualifications. Note that there is no admissions exam for this degree programme at present

 

Interview

 

Usually approximately 1000 candidates who have met the academic and non-academic criteria are invited for interview for the 5-year programme, the majority of whom will be undergraduate applicants. 90 graduate applicants will be invited for interview for the 4-year programme. Interviews for both programmes are in Mini Multiple Interview (MMI) format and included six 6 minute stations plus a basic Mathematics/calculations station.

 

During the interview you will be assessed on the following criteria:

 

• Self-insight and reflection

• Problem-solving and team-work

• Communication skills (particularly with people you meet for the first time)

• Dealing with uncertainty

• Resilience

• Honesty and empathy

• Ethical reasoning

• Data interpretation and ability to evaluate information and identify relevant aspects

 

There may be questions involving NHS issues, ethical scenarios and handling difficult situations. Good preparation is to talk about these issues with healthcare staff and friends and family. There will be an interactive task and a debate task. For more detailed information on the types of interview stations that may come up, please see the following link:

 

http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/Documents/college-mds/courses/undergraduate/Medicine-and-Surgery-MBChB/web-info-interview-5-year-2015-16-v3.pdf

 

For the 5-year programme, interview scores are ranked and the top 650 candidates will receive an offer. There is no advantage to having your interview earlier in the year. There is a minimum score for each interview station. If candidates are within 5% of the cut-off interview scores, or if they have failed to reach the minimum score for one interview station, the SJT component of their UKCAT will be considered as a determining factor for whether they receive an offer (usually those who score above Band 4 will receive an offer).

 

For the 4-year programme, candidates are ranked according to their overall interview score and approximately the top 50 candidates will receive an offer. If a candidate has not met the minimum score for an interview station, they may not receive an offer, even if they have achieved a comparatively high overall interview score. Academic criteria is not normally re-reviewed at this stage but may be used in the event of a tie-breaker situation.

 

COMPETITION RATIOS

 

For 2016 entry to the 5-year programme, there were 3017 applicants for the 306 UK/EU spaces on the course, of which 1000 were interviewed and approximately 650 received offers. Note that there are also 28 places available for international applicants.

 

For the 4-year programme in the same year, there were 680 applicants for the 40 UK/EU spaces available, 90 of whom were interviewed and 50 of whom received offers.

 

RANKINGS

 

Medicine at the University of Birmingham is ranked 21st in the UK by the Guardian University Guide 2016.

 

It is ranked 14th in the UK by the Complete University Guide 2016.

 

It is among the top 100 medical schools in the QS World University Rankings.

 

Manushri Jain, year 3 student

 

1. What are the good things about studying Medicine at this university?

 

"You get clinical exposure from the first year with GP placements, and starting with year 3 all the time is spent in hospitals allowing you to get used to the environment and become comfortable working around other professionals. Each year there is a research based essay or presentation - really helps develop your lateral thinking and allows you to explore other aspects linked to medicine."

 

2. What is not so good about studying Medicine there?

 

"It's very demanding in terms of work load, the school requires essays and presentations together with the basic requirement of learning medicine. It's not just a clinical course as in some Unis, there is a lot of ethics, psychology, sociology and research integrated within - if pure science is more what you're looking for maybe this isn't the best choice."

 

3. What advice do you have for someone thinking of studying Medicine there?

 

"Make sure you have work experience and are able to reflect on your time there. As the interviews are MMIs if one goes badly forget about it as they are all marked individually."

 

4. Do you have any tips on how to get in?

 

"The general: grades, work experience, knowledge on the current and past medically related news and that personal touch which includes reflection on your work and experiences."

 

Ask Dr Jiva a question

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